The folks at Pro Football Focus recently revealed their all-division teams, and the NFC West arrived on Thursday. There are not a lot of huge surprises, and there is actually some decent balance among the teams. There are nine 49ers, eight Seahawks, six Cardinals and five Rams.
I'm sure I am not the only person curious how that many 49ers ended up on the all-division list. But here is the breakdown:
Offense: FB Bruce Miller, WR Anquan Boldin, LT Joe Staley, LG Mike Iupati, RG Alex Boone
Defense: LB Chris Borland, CB Chris Culliver, SS Antoine Bethea
Special teams: KR/PR Bruce Ellington
I was initially surprised at the inclusion of Ellington, but in looking back at his season, it was not entirely awful in the return game. In reality I think his inclusion here says more about the state of returners in the division. Ellington finished the season tied for sixth in kick returns (out of 21 qualified players), and tied for 13th in punt returns (out of 24 qualified players).
Rams kick returner Benjamin Cunningham averaged two more yards per punt return, and Cardinals punt returner Ted Ginn Jr. averaged 2.5 more yards per punt return. Ellington handled both duties, and showed some improvement later in the season. His biggest issue was in fair catches and knowing where he was on the field during a punt.
The 49ers added Trindon Holliday late in the season, and he will get a chance to compete for the return work over the course of the offseason workout program and training camp. Holliday will be entering his fifth season, while Ellington is entering his second. The 49ers plans with Ellington in the offense remain unclear, most notably because there is no offensive coordinator in place yet.